Just released today — the Minnesota Supreme Court invalidates the disorderly conduct statute and sends Robin Hensel’s conviction down to the lower court:


In the STrib:

Minn. Supreme Court invalidates law that bars disturbing public meetings

Landmark Stray Voltage Case!

January 27th, 2011


Above, equipotential plane for treating manifestations of stray voltage — it does NOT eliminate stray voltage!  See 2006 MREC Equipotential Planes for explanation.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court released a landmark stray voltage opinion, clarifying the breadth of the “filed rate” and “primary jurisdiction” doctrines declaring that they do not limit suits for stray voltage damages against utilities.  This has been a six year lawsuit for the Siewerts so far…

Siewert v. Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy

Here’s the STrib’s article — hmmmmm… no comments allowed!  I wonder why that is?

Supreme Court rules for farmers in stray-voltage case

In a divided opinion, the state court’s decision allows a father and son to pursue damages to their dairy herd blamed on excess voltage from Xcel Energy.

By JIM ANDERSON, Star Tribune

Last update: January 27, 2011 – 10:03 AM

In a ruling on an issue that has long vexed the state’s dairy industry, a divided Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that two Wabasha County farmers can seek $4 million in damages from Xcel Energy for damages to their herd through stray voltage.

Stray voltage — the subject of much debate, research and legal action over the past several decades — is a phenomenon caused by low levels of excess electricity passing via the ground between two contact points through an object not intended to be a conductor.

In the case of dairy cattle, it is claimed the continued stress of mild shocks thwarts milk production and damages their health.

“We’re very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Greg Siewert, who farms with his father, Harlan, in Zumbro Falls. The Siewerts first filed suit against Northern States Power Co., a subsidiary of Xcel, in 2004.
Read the rest of this entry »

So here I sit in Rochester, and we’ve got a CLE in the Ethics part about blogging and “social media,” which is pretty interesting.  Some examples are a Florida lawyer making a negative blog post (that the judge was an “evil witch”) and lo and behold, the judge found out because she was his “friend” on Facebook.  Another one was a lawyer who was on a jury and was blogging about the case he was on.  DUH, how stupid can you get?!?!

The examples are extreme, i.e., a judge discussing cases on Facebook, again, DUH!

And on another note… A real depressing part of this gathering was the “State of the 3rd District” which was about the struggles to maintain some semblance of a court system (don’t worry, I’m not going to claim any semblance of justice in this gutting) amidst layoffs, and moving court workers to other counties, even telling some that they now had to work 60 miles away, that judges are grossly overloaded and they have 75% of the judges they need for the caseloads, and that they don’t even have individual law clerks now, and are closing the front desk and shutting off the phones one afternoon a week in an attempt to catch up, how absurd can it be?  Do you know that to help mitigate the slashes to the Public Defender budget we attorneys now pay an extra $100 annually?  Is this any way to run a court?  It just made me sick, the 3rd Chief Judge spent about 20 minutes laying all that horrific news out, and then, the moderator introduces the new Pawlenty appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Lorie Skjerven Gildea.  She offered empty platitudes, “we have to work together in this difficult time” or some such… GIVE ME A BREAK, WASN’T SHE LISTENING TO THE “STATE OF THE3RD DISTRICT?”  Her boss is responsible for this sorry state.

Here’s one take on Gildea’s appointment, from an Eric Black column on MinnPost:

It’s awkward.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty yesterday elevated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea to be chief justice just eight days after Gildea had published a strong dissent taking Pawlenty’s side in the unallotment case. Awkward.

State Rep. Ryan Winkler, who is also an attorney, used stronger language. In a press release (that means he had time to think about his word choices), he called the appointments “nauseating.” He said Gildea’s promotion was “just a big thank you for the loyal dissent she wrote last week defending Governor Pawlenty’s illegal unallotments.” See if you can guess Rep. Winkler’s political party.

Take a few minutes and read the whole column:

Pawlenty’s Supreme Court picks raise sticky and embarrassing issues